November 15, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Unveils Revolutionary Scorpius Electronic Warfare System - Paul Iddon (Forbes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled a revolutionary electronic warfare (EW) system called Scorpius on Thursday.
    Gideon Fustick, Marketing VP EW Group at IAI, said the Scorpius "is very effective in engaging and disabling enemy systems."
    "Planes, missiles, UAVs are all using electromagnetic means to sense the environment, to navigate, and to communicate."
    Scorpius uses active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology to scan the entire sky and can send narrowly targeted beams - "at any wavelength, any frequency, any direction against specific targets without interfering with anybody else" - that disrupt enemy electronic sensors, data communications, navigation and radar.
    "It's the first system that can really detect anything in the sky and address multiple targets in different directions and different frequencies simultaneously," he said.
    The ground version of the system, the Scorpius G, "creates an electronic umbrella of defense over a whole region."
    "One of the advantages about electronic or soft defense systems is that the price per activation is virtually zero," Fustick said. "You don't run out of ammunition."

U.S., Israel, UAE and Bahrain Conduct Maritime Security Exercise in Red Sea (U.S. Navy Central Command)
    Naval forces from the U.S., Israel, UAE and Bahrain began conducting a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea on Nov. 10.
    The five-day exercise includes at-sea training aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland and focuses on visit, board, search and seizure tactics.

U.S., Israel Join Forces to Combat Ransomware Attacks (U.S. Treasury Department)
    Israel and the U.S. on Sunday launched a joint Task Force on Fintech Innovation and Cybersecurity to protect critical financial infrastructure and expand international cooperation to counter the threat ransomware poses to the global economy.

Ben and Jerry's Israel Boycott Is Harming Unilever Shares - Lydia Moynihan (New York Post)
    Since Ben & Jerry's announced on July 19 it would stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, Unilever's stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange has fallen 13% and lost about $20 billion in market value as various funds have said they will pull money out of Unilever.

PFLP Boasts about Its Ties to Iran - Joe Truzman (Long War Journal-FDD)
    In a recent interview, Abu Jamal, a spokesperson for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, boasted:
    "We and the Islamic Republic [of Iran] fought the Zionist enemy in Lebanon and we also fought them in Gaza and the West Bank."
    Jamal referred to Iran's Revolutionary Guards as "blood brothers" and "comrades" who shared a "common destiny" in defeating Israel.
    Iranian military and financial support to the group has been continuous since 2013 and a PFLP delegation met with President Ibrahim Raisi after his swearing-in ceremony in August.
    After the May 2021 Gaza-Israel conflict, the PFLP held a military parade where its fighters displayed pictures of former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
    See also Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza Praises Iran and Hizbullah for Arming Group - Joe Truzman (Long War Journal-FDD)
    In a recent interview, Abu Atayya, spokesperson for the al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, said:
    "Every missile, shell, or any tool of the Resistance, the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force have been credited with delivering, developing and supplying them to us and to all military arms facing the Zionist enemy."

Israel Thwarts Weapon-Smuggling from Jordan - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    IDF troops seized 8 shotguns, 3 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 2 pistols and an M-16 rifle and arrested a Palestinian who tried to smuggle weapons from Jordan into Israel on Thursday.

Israel's Elbit to Provide South Korea with Airborne Munitions (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced Thursday that it signed a 5-year, $74 million contract to supply a range of precision airborne munitions to the South Korean air force.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran to Play Hardball at Nuclear Talks - Parisa Hafezi
    Iran will adopt an uncompromising stance when it resumes nuclear talks with major powers, betting it has the leverage to win wide sanctions relief in return for curbs on its increasingly advanced atomic technology, officials and analysts say. "Our nuclear facilities are up and running....We can live with or without the deal," said a hardline Iranian official.
        Iran is rebuilding enriched uranium stocks, refining it to a higher fissile purity, and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production. Iran has also limited access to UN nuclear watchdog inspectors, restricting their visits to declared nuclear sites only.
        Kasra Aarabi, senior Iran analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, said by using delays in the talks, advancing its atomic expertise and continuing to support paramilitary allies in the region, Khamenei and his hardline allies were "genuinely convinced they can intimidate the U.S. into granting more concessions without facing any consequences." Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the negotiations were bound to fail "if Iran's opening salvo is indeed its bottom line."  (Reuters)
  • Growing Opposition to Iran's Involvement in Syria - Ben Caspit
    Several intelligence analysts have assessed recently that with Assad's regime stabilized, the Iranian presence in Syria might no longer be an asset for the Syrian leader. As long as the Iranians remain entrenched in his back yard, the attacks on them attributed to Israel are likely to continue. "If it were up to him, the Iranians would no longer be there," said a senior Israeli military source. "A war between Israel and Iran in his territory is the last thing he wants." Yet Assad "is far from being able shake off this burden."
        Since the Oct. 22 Sochi summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, several massive attacks on Iranian targets in Syria have been attributed by foreign outlets to Israel. None of the strikes prompted any condemnation from Moscow. According to diplomatic and political sources, the Russian silence attests to Putin's growing impatience with Iran's involvement in Syria.
        Increased Israeli activity in Syria is likely prompted by Iranian escalation. Israel has no intention of allowing Iran to turn Lebanon and Syria into launching pads for thousands of precision missiles aimed at strategic Israeli targets. (Al-Monitor)
  • Colombia Expels 2 Hizbullah Operatives Tracking Israelis, Americans
    Two months ago, we captured and expelled "two criminals commissioned by Hizbullah with the intention of committing a criminal act in Colombia," Defense Minister Diego Molano told El Tiempo on Sunday. Citing sources in Colombia's military intelligence services, the newspaper said Hizbullah was spying on American and Israeli businessmen in Colombia. (AFP)
        See also Israel Extracts Former Intelligence Official from Colombia amid Hizbullah Assassination Plot
    Israel secretly spirited a former intelligence official from Bogota after it emerged that he was under surveillance by Hizbullah operatives, the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported on Monday. The report said the official, as well as U.S. diplomatic personnel in Bogota, had been targeted for assassination. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Couple Arrested in Turkey for Espionage Are Innocent Civilians - Jonathan Lis
    Vacationing Israeli bus drivers Natalie and Mordi Oknin are being held in Turkey over espionage charges after they photographed Turkish President Erdogan's residence from a telecommunications tower in Istanbul with observation decks. The building in question, the waterfront Dolmabahce Palace, is a popular tourist attraction that has not been used as an official residence for decades. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett said Sunday that the two Israeli tourists are "innocent civilians" and that the government is working to secure their release. (Ha'aretz-Times of Israel)
        See also Photos of Erdogan's Residences Appear on Government Websites - Zvi Bar'el
    After taking a photo in Istanbul with a cellphone camera, Natalie Oknin sent it back to Israel in a WhatsApp message, saying: "Look at Erdogan's house. See how beautiful it is." Turks know that using the term "Erdogan" on social media immediately sets off alarms in the surveillance computers of the Turkish intelligence services. From 2014 through 2019, 129,000 internet users in Turkey were charged with "insulting the president of Turkey."
        Erdogan has built a number of palatial residences at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. The presidential palace in Ankara, the White Palace, was built in 2014 at a cost of over $650 million. In August 2020, Erdogan inaugurated a new presidential palace near Lake Van in eastern Turkey. Last July, the architect who planned Erdogan's summer residence north of Marmaris released pictures of the palace, completed two years ago at a cost of $74 million.
        All these palatial structures have been photographed inside and out, with the images appearing on government websites, yet no one has been put on trial for publishing the pictures. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egyptian Troops to Permanently Deploy on Israel Border - Hamza Hendawi
    "The joint (Egyptian-Israeli) military committee has succeeded through a co-ordination meeting with the Israeli side to amend the security agreement to increase the number of border guards and their capabilities on the border area at Rafah" near Gaza, Egypt's chief military spokesman wrote on his Facebook page on Nov. 8.
        "It is the first time in nearly five decades that we have troops permanently deployed along the border with Israel," said Egyptian military analyst Sameer Farag, a retired army general. According to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, only policemen with light arms were allowed in the section of Sinai bordering Israel and Gaza.
        Egypt's deal with Israel to permanently station troops along a troubled stretch of the border in Sinai represents a qualitative leap in relations that caps years of growing security co-operation, analysts say. The deal was concluded in a meeting between Egyptian President El Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Bennett in September. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Thousands in West Bank Attend Funeral of Top Hamas Official - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral in Jenin on Friday of top Hamas official Wasfi Kabaha, 62, who died of Covid-19 last week. Dozens of masked gunmen belonging to the armed wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad participated in the funeral. The mass funeral was seen by Palestinians as a show of force and a direct challenge to the Palestinian Authority. Kabaha, who spent 14 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses, was an outspoken critic of the PA. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Are We for Free Expression and Dialogue or Intolerance and Violence? - Amb. Tzipi Hotovely
    Dialogue and critical thinking are the cornerstones on which universities were founded. In the Jewish tradition, open discussion is a fundamental value in which generations of Jewish scholars have been educated. It is clear that the crowds who gathered to shout outside the London School of Economics last week did not seek discourse. They sought to achieve their will by violent means and the suppression of alternative voices.
        I received dozens of messages of support, concern and apology from every political, social and ethnic group that makes up the fabric of British society. This support moved me greatly. People have realized that it's an issue of values: to be for free expression and dialogue or on the side of intolerance and violence. The support I received demonstrates there is a broad consensus in Britain that Israel is an important ally who shares common values.
        The writer is Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom. (Sunday Express-UK)
        See also Interview with Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely - Bryony Gordon (Telegraph-UK)
  • A New Military Strategy for Israel in Gaza - Col. (res) Grisha Yakubovich
    While Israel is perfectly capable of launching a major air campaign and a ground offensive to topple Hamas in response to the next rocket barrage, it is the last thing Israel should do. Every round of combat since 2008-9 has left Hamas emerging stronger than before. As a result, a new military strategy for Israel is critical. Signs of this new approach could be seen during the escalation in May with Israel's missile precision and ability to conduct pinpoint strikes on Hamas targets in order to reduce noncombatant casualties.
        On the diplomatic-political front, Israel must enable the gradual - albeit unofficial - integration of Gaza into Egypt, which is leading the reconstruction of Gaza today. This is a process that is already underway and would force Hamas to focus its energies on maneuvering in the Arab arena.
        War with Israel is what keeps Hamas relevant. Hamas needs casualties and headlines to dominate the Palestinian and Arab arenas. Israel's central objective should therefore be to force Hamas to deal with its economic needs and to encourage it to abandon war - because armed conflict is Hamas' bridge to increasing its power base in the West Bank.
        Should Hamas once again flood Israeli cities with rockets, Israel should take a deep breath, rely on Iron Dome to deal with the initial attacks, and then launch an open-ended campaign of strategic attrition and targeted strikes without any deadline.
        The writer, an expert at the Miryam Institute, concluded 30 years of IDF military service in 2016 as head of the civil department for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Syrian Woman's Experiences with Hamas in Gaza - Allison Norlian
    One of the scariest moments of Manar Al-Sharif's life was the day six men and three women Hamas operatives barged into her apartment, confiscated her phone and laptop, forcefully searched and blindfolded her, and took her to an all-women prison, where she spent two weeks in solitary confinement in a cell with no windows or light. Her crime: helping create a virtual event for Gazans to Zoom with Israelis. She was released after three months.
        Al-Sharif was born and raised in Damascus, but her family fled to Egypt in 2013 because of the civil war. Because she and her family are conservative, religious Muslims, her family preferred she attend college in Islamic-controlled Gaza. So in 2017, she enrolled in the Islamic University to study journalism, but left because the "Hamas propaganda was too pronounced....It wasn't professional and it wasn't journalism."
        Around the same time, she was sitting in her apartment with friends - both men and women - when building security called the police because Hamas forbids intermingling of the sexes. They took her to jail, where she was beaten for two days before being released.
        In October 2020, Al-Sharif, labeled a "dangerous person" by Hamas, was sent back to Egypt. (Forbes)
  • Jerusalem Consulate for Palestinians Is a Fight Biden Doesn't Need - Zev Chafets
    The U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem was long seen in Israel as an advocate for the agenda of the Palestine Liberation Organization. A de facto U.S. embassy to the Palestinians, the consulate stood as a symbol of America's refusal to accept Israeli sovereignty over the entire city or to formally recognize it as Israel's capital. That policy ended in 2018, when the Trump Administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
        For Israel, this was the fulfilment of a national dream. The vast majority of its Jewish citizens see Jerusalem as the country's sovereign capital. If the U.S. presses, Israel will push back. Prime Minister Bennett is counting on a dose of realism in Washington to save the day. President Biden faces a long list of international challenges. Bennett is betting that Biden will not want to add a contentious dispute with Israel over Jerusalem to his list.
        The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office. (Bloomberg-Washington Post)

Algeria Confronts Europe and the West over Gas and the Western Sahara - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • There has been a notable radicalization of Algerian foreign and security policy. On Oct. 31, Algeria decided to halt all gas exports to Spain and Portugal through the Maghreb-Europe pipeline that crosses Morocco. Two months earlier, Algeria cut diplomatic relations with Morocco. In essence, the Algerian government was singling out Morocco and escalating tensions in North Africa.
  • Since 2018, Algeria has given new support for the Polisario Front insurgents in the Western Sahara that threatened the Moroccan armed forces. Algeria has allowed the Islamic Republic of Iran to use its embassy in Algiers as a conduit for arms, funding, and training for the Polisario forces. Iran employed Hizbullah for this training mission because its operatives spoke Arabic. In response, Morocco cut off diplomatic relations with the Iranian government. 
  • Algeria has closed its airspace to French fighter jets heading to the civil war in Mali, where jihadist forces were aligned with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in the north and with the Islamic State in the south. Keeping allied airpower out of Algerian airspace effectively strengthened jihadist groups in the Sahel (the region south of the Sahara Desert), undermining Western interests.
  • In October 2021, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2602, which called for the resumption of consultations between Algeria, Morocco, and the Polisario to advance "a mutually acceptable political solution" in the Western Sahara based on compromise. Algeria utterly rejected the resolution.

    The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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